If you owe tax with your federal tax return, but can't afford to pay it all when you file, the IRS wants you to know your options and help you keep interest and penalties to a minimum.

Here are five tips:

  1. File your return on time and pay as much as you can with the return. These steps will eliminate the late filing penalty, reduce the late payment penalty and cut down on interest charges. For electronic and credit card options for paying see IRS.gov. You may also mail a check payable to the United States Treasury
  2. Consider obtaining a loan or paying by credit card. The interest rate and fees charged by a bank or credit card company may be lower than interest and penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Code.
  3. Request an installment payment agreement. You do not need to wait for IRS to send you a bill before requesting a payment agreement. Options for requesting an agreement include: IRS charges a user fee to set up your payment agreement. See www.irs.gov or the installment agreement request form for fee amounts.
  4. Request an extension of time to pay. For tax year 2011, qualifying individuals may request an extension of time to pay and have the late payment penalty waived as part of the IRS Fresh Start Initiative. To see if you qualify visit www.irs.gov and get form 1127-A, Application for Extension of Time for Payment. But hurry, your application must be filed by April 17, 2012.
  5. If you receive a bill from the IRS, please contact us immediately to discuss these and other payment options. Ignoring the bill will only compound your problem and could lead to IRS collection action.

If you can't pay in full and on time, the key to minimizing your penalty and interest charges is to pay as much as possible by the tax deadline and the balance as soon as you can. For more information on the IRS collection process go to or see IRSVideos.gov/OweTaxes.

TaxACT Free Federal and Deluxe Editions provide assistance for Forms 9465-FS and 1127-A. Start your online return now.

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Upcoming Tax Dates

July 1 — Occupational excise taxes
File Form 11C to register and pay the annual tax if you are in the business of accepting wagers.

July 4 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Independence Day) - Details

July 11 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during June, report them to your employer - Details

July 12 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the first 15 days of June.

July 14 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the last 15 days of June.

July 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in June.

July 15 — Nonpayroll withholding
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in June.

July 27 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 15 days of June.

July 29 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the first 15 days of July.

View More Tax Dates